Remembering: Ivan Bailey

Remembering: Ivan Bailey

Ivan Bailey

Blacksmith Ivan Bailey. 

Ivan Bailey, 68, a Georgia artist and teacher widely considered one of America’s greatest artistic blacksmiths, died at his farm in Monticello on September 9.

Bailey’s commissioned work is represented in hundreds of private and public installations and collections in the United States and abroad, including Savannah’s Olympic Torch monument. His many honors and awards include the Governor’s Award of the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Georgia Association of the American Institute of Architects Award for Craftsmanship. He was a founding member of the Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America (ABANA).

Born in Oregon, Bailey entered a Christian Brothers’ monastery in Napa, California, but left the novitiate to obtain a BA in art at Portland State University. He then studied jewelry making and metalsmithing at Penland School in North Carolina. Encouraged by Robert Ebendorf to enter the grad program at University of Georgia, Bailey received his MFA in 1971. A forge workshop at Southern Illinois University with Alex W. Bealer, author of the seminal The Art of Blacksmithing and Bailey’s future father-in-law, altered the course of Bailey’s career forever. In 1972 he won a Fulbright fellowship but accepted a larger German cultural exchange grant to study for a year under Professor Fritz Ulrich at the Craft School of Aachen, Germany.

Mills B. Lane, Jr., president of the former Citizens and Southern National Bank (C&S) was an early patron, and with his help, Bailey opened his first forge on Bay Street in Savannah. Bailey relocated to Atlanta in 1981 and was one of the first tenants at the historic King Plow Arts Center on West Marietta Street. He retired to Monticello seven years ago.

Bailey regularly taught at his forge, at conferences, and at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. He was notable in his profession for his success in combining talent and superb craftsmanship with good business practices and a lifelong belief in service to others. His quiet generosity and abundant sharing of his time, knowledge, and resources were legendary among his friends and students.

Bailey led an exemplary life, as an artist, as a father to his two sons, and as a grandfather. Bailey's sons insist that "he was the best effing father of all time."

There will be a private cremation overseen by Cremation Society of Georgia. A celebration of Bailey’s life will be held at Stationside at the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta Street NW, in Atlanta on September 15 at 2 p.m.
He is survived by his son Oliver and daughter-in-law Lindsay Bailey of Decatur, Georgia, and their two children, Scarlett and Colvin; his son Warren and daughter-in-law Rebecca Hagenson Bailey of Brooklyn, New York; and his sister Linda Lisac.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Artist Blacksmith's Association of North America.

ABANA Central Office
259 Muddy Fork Road
Jonesborough, TN 37659